Monday, 14 November 2011 12:20

Ethiopia, international conference: ICASA 2011

Addis Ababa, 8 April 2011 (The Ethiopian Herald) - The Society for AIDS in Africa (SAA) was established with the vision of creating HIV free Africa with capacity to confront all HIV attending consequences and related diseases (such as Tuberculosis and Malaria), and promoting positive environment and research on HIV and related diseases.

The formation of SAA, which was assisted by the World Health Organization (W.H.O.), put paid to the practice of holding International Conference on AIDS in Africa: International Conference on AIDS and STIs in Africa (ICASA which provides a forum for exchange of experiences and lessons learnt in Africa and around the globe that can help fight the pandemic and other sexual transmitted infections throughout the continent in context to Africa.

Since its inception, SAA has successfully organized 15 International Conferences on HIV/AIDS and STIs in 14 countries in Africa and given the opportunity to host the 16 th ICASA 2011 to Ethiopia. Accordingly, the country has already started its preparations to host the biggest ever international conference with more than 10,000 participants drawn around the globe.

With the objectives of evaluating ICASA 2011 preparation progress and update, reviewing conference programs and obtain feedback and suggestions on the overall strategy of the conference operations the 3 rd international steering committee meeting of ICASA 2011 was conducted here from 31 March to April 1.

With the intention to let readers have some highlights about the preparation and the overall activities of Ethiopia regarding the conference. This writer has produced this piece as follows.

How is the preparation going on?

Obviously, this kind of big conference needs high level of preparation. It is demanding in terms of human resource, finance and other inputs. The preparation made so far has shown that Ethiopia that Ethiopia has been committed than ever to keep its promise and host the conference successfully. As learnt from the meeting, preparation is well in progress. ICASA 2011, president Dr. Yegeremu Abebe said that ICASA 2011 Secretariat which is responsible for the preparation of the conference has carried out numerous activities so far though a lot remains to be done.

He said the secretariat must be strengthened further in human resource and logistics and the resource mobilization, and fund raising activities need to be intensified and exploited effectively and efficiently for the conference time is approaching. As to Dr. Yigeremu, of the over 6 million USD which is needed for the preparation task the Secretariat has secured 1 million USD so far and will hopefully get the remaining within the right time.

He added that challenging thing regarding the conference was getting a hall with a capacity to accommodate more than 10,000 people at the same time. This problem is already solved as MEDRC International has freely provided the organizing Committee with the avenue and promised to cover all the expenses necessary to adjust the required facilities at the millennium hall, and make it conference format tailored. Noticing that the government of Ethiopia is general and MOH and HAPCO in particular are now fully engaged in making the conference happen within the right time, Dr. Yigeremu called up on all government institutions to show their firm commitment and passion to achieve ICASA 2011 of international standards.

ICASA 2011, vice chair, Dr. Tewabech Bishaw on her part said that the secretariat has already established the three leading committees - the scientific, leadership and community program committees which have been fully operational and are undertaking tasks as planned. “We already have the communication and fund raising sub committees established and they have developed their strategies and completed work plan almost ready for takeoff” she said.

Society on AIDS in Africa President, Professor Robert Souder said “We are happy with the preparation that has been done by Ethiopia so far and we realized that the preparation is advancing well and we are satisfied with.” He said Ethiopia was chosen among the five candidates for it has presented the most consistent document. We are happy as the opportunity is given to the nation where AU resides.” He added.

What is the government doing in this regard?

Needless to say, this kind of big conference is a good opportunity for the nation. It would have its own advantage in the countries effort to build its positive image and also help the country draw important lessons from the participants who are expected to come from different angles of the world. That is why the government is working more than any other concerned body to host the conference successfully.

On his message through his representative Dr. Tedros Adhanom said, As the capital city of Africa and the seat of the headquarter of the Africa Union (AU) and Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), Addis Ababa has a good experience of hosting large high level meetings with participants not exceeded 4,000.

Thus it is a first experience for Ethiopia to host a conference which expected to bring together more than 10,000 delegates from around the world including scientists, health workers, policy makers, people living with HIV/AIDS, Sexually Transmitted Infections as well as Tuberculosis and Malaria, he said.

In full realization of the challenges of hosting a conference of such magnitude, the government of Ethiopia, along with its partners, is making everything possible to make the conference a success. “We have tried to put in place the right structure and involve relevant governmental and non governmental institutions, partners, the media professionals in the efforts underway to deal with issues related to conference programs, logistics, security, communications, accommodations as well as conference venue and facilities.” Said Dr. Tedros.

Deputy Director General of Federal HIV/AIDS Prevention & Control Office, Meskele Lera on his part said – as the government of Ethiopia is committed to the development of the nation it has shown interest to organize and host the conference for which it have made application and won after reviewed in terms of accommodation capacity, security, transportation and the like by the society on aids in Africa. Ethiopia leadership in different development issues of Africa and its representation of different African issues has helped the nation get this opportunity he added. According to Meskele the government has remained commuted and is working to the best of its capacity to host ICASA 2011 successfully.

What makes ICASA 2011 different?

In his message read out at the aforementioned occasion, Health Minister Dr. Tedros Adhanom said that ICASA 2011 is historically different in that it will take place 30 years after the detection of AIDS, 10 years after the UNGASS political declaration on AIDS, and 5 years after the Global Declaration towards Universal Access to HIV prevention, treatment, care and support. In this regard, the conference will provide Africa and the world a unique opportunity to review the progresses made collectively over the years towards universal access and attaining MDGs as well as the challenges facing the fight against the epidemic.

But even more than what is stated above; this conference has many unique futures as it is going to be conducted in Ethiopia a land of natural contrast, with waterfalls and volcanic host springs. Ethiopia has some of Africa’s highest mountains as well as some of the world’s lowest points below sea level. The largest cave in Africa is located in Ethiopia at Sof Omar, and the country’s northernmost area at Dallol is one of the hottest places year-round anywhere on Earth. There are altogether around 80 different ethnic groups in Ethiopia today with their different cultures. The country also has spectacular historical sites with the largest number of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Africa. Ethiopia is one of a few African countries to have its own alphabet. Ethiopia also has its own time system and unique calendar, seven to eight years behind the Gregorian calendar with the most suitable weather condition and people with good hospitality. Imagine how the conference is unique in that it is to be conducted in the nation which is worth visiting. In addition Addis Ababa is the location of several international organizations focused on Africa. Today, Addis Ababa is still the head quarter of the African Union, the Nile Basin Commission, the pan African Chamber of Commerce (PACCI) and UNECA.

Definitely, this gives the conference extra color. Recognizing that Ethiopia is a gifted land which has a lot to offer the expected participants from across the globe, Dr. Tedros said the government believes that in addition to creating an excellent opportunity to take stock of the achievements and challenges in AIDS responses and to strengthen partnership among governments, civil societies, the private sector and development partners, ICASA 2011 will thus provide participants a good opportunity to see Ethiopian’s development efforts and visit the countries historical places and unique scenery.

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The Official Carrier of ICASA 2011!

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Ethiopian is pleased to offer a 10% discount to all ICASA 2011 delegates.

Take advantage of this great offer by visiting your local Ethiopian ticket office. To find your nearest ticketing office, visit http://www.flyethiopian.com/. Upon your visit, please present your ICASA 2011 registration number to get the discount.

Please note this offer is not applicable for online purchases or at a non-Ethiopian Airlines ticketing office.

ICASA 2011, in partnership with Ethiopian Airlines, is pleased to offer ICASA 2011 delegates priority luggage service at Addis Ababa Bole Airport. To take advantage of this priority service, delegates must visibly identify their luggage by tying a Red Ribbon on the handle or body of the luggage.

Bon Voyage!

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ICASA 2011 Secretariat
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